Thursday, February 3, 2011

Herding Sheep

I have now settled in at Mogliazze, an organic farm high in the mountains of northern Italy where the mood is a laid-back learning by doing – in the liberating extreme where responsibility comes fast. For example, the sheep taught me how to herd them today. Doctor Pietro, whose family runs the farm, smiled warmly as he offered simple instructions in broken English: “You open the gate. You go around with them. You take them back in.”
Sheep are not very smart, but they run fast. I enjoyed about 3 minutes of relaxing as they munched the grass immediately outside the gate. The next thing I knew, they were hopping and jumping down the mountain, jostling along a narrow path under thick shoulder-high branches, and muddily splashing across streams. Equipped with a thin stick, and my trusty cross trainers, I followed in hot pursuit. We immerged in a wide open field, where I caught my breath and realized that herding them was more about partnership than leadership. As they turned to head back about 15 minutes later, I kept the sidetracked ones heading in the right direction with light taps on the rear.
As we ventured uphill towards the gate, I scooped up a little one who had fallen out breath. I carried him back to the barn, as my friend emerged from the woods to help close the gate. “Where were you?!” he asked, having woken from a hillside nap. With three short phrases of instruction, I had been trusted to take care of the entire herd (about 25) and guide them safely home. Hopefully we’ll go for another pasture-run tomorrow, and next time I’ll bring my cowboy hat.

I decided that it would be best to post an entertaining entry today, after last week’s reflection on Sauchsenhausen, and look forward to sharing deeper thoughts from the farm next week.

The East Side Gallery is longest remaining portion of the Berlin Wall. Approximately one hundred artists have reclaimed it as a celebration of unification.

The first morning at Mogliazze.


  1. I gotta say, Fishers sure know how to adventure.

  2. Wow.... Woww... sounds very awesome. And Beautiful. Nice post!

    Watch out for fiery bushes though, I hear they're sometimes distracting.